Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Child poverty figures are a disgrace

Commenting on the report by the New Policy Institute showing an increase in the number of children living in severe poverty since 2004/05, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar, Ian Swales said:

"These figures are truly shocking. Severe poverty means 1.7million children are living in families who don't have enough money for basic necessities. The children lack basic needs such as a winter coat or a decent bed.

“Labour has failed to tackle child poverty with its complicated tax and benefit tricks. Ministers seem to have run out of ideas. Thirteen years after promising to end child poverty the situation is getting worse not better.

“Our area desparately needs more jobs so that people don't get caught in a long term cycle of deprivation.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Doctors receive £15m in ‘ash cash’ payments – Swales

Doctors working in hospitals earned almost £15m last year in so called ‘ash cash’ payments made by grieving families, figures released by the Liberal Democrats have revealed. The payment is made to doctors to sign a form releasing a body for cremation.

Commenting Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, said:

“This is a well established practice but you really can’t justify taking money off grieving relatives when this involves nothing beyond most doctors normal working hours.

“People are at their most vulnerable after the death of a loved one and the last thing they need is these extra charges.

“The NHS is meant to care for people from the cradle to grave but these charges undermine that principle.

“The Government must take action to put an end to this practice as soon as possible as it simply cannot be justified.”

Before a deceased person can be cremated, two certificates stating the cause of death have to be signed, one by the doctor who attended the deceased before death, and the other by a doctor of at least five years’ standing.

Normally the undertaker arranges for the certificates to be signed and pays a fee, often known as ‘ash cash', to the two doctors. The amount of the fee is then included in the charge which the undertaker makes to the deceased person’s estate. Doctors currently receive £73.50 for each cremation form they sign on top of their NHS salaries.The fees for forms 4 and 5 are paid by the funeral director who will almost invariably pass the cost on to the relatives.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Former Councillor Keith Blott

Redcar & Cleveland Liberal Democrats have paid tribute to former Borough Councillor Keith Blott, who died last week aged 83.

Keith served as councillor for the West Dyke ward between 1999 and 2007.

Outside of politics, Keith was a local football referee and worked with young offenders. He loved travelling and visited Australia, Africa and Canada.

Group Leader Chris Abbott said:

“Keith was a well respected, hard-working councillor. He was always cheerful and ready with a joke or two. He will be sadly missed.”

Monday, 18 January 2010

Over 15,000 local pensioners will miss out on Cold Weather Payments – Ian Swales

Over 15,000 Teesside pensioners will miss out on Cold Weather Payments triggered by the recent weather, according to analysis of Government figures by the Liberal Democrats.

Cold Weather Payments of £25 a week are paid to people on low incomes who receive a qualifying benefit, such as Pension Credit, which goes unclaimed by as many as 1.7m pensioners across the country.

Commenting, prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar constituency, Ian Swales said:

“It is a scandal that local pensioners on the breadline are missing out on these payments, worth an estimated £375,000.

“Fuel prices are at an all time high, making Cold Weather Payments all the more important to people already struggling on a poverty pension.

“Labour has failed pensioners by creating a complicated system that makes it difficult for them to get the help they desperately need.

“The Government should be making every effort to identify pensioners who are missing out and get them this extra cash.”

People can get Cold Weather Payments worth £25 when temperatures are below zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days when they claim a qualifying benefit.

2. Pension Credit is a qualifying benefit yet Department for Work and Pensions figures for 2007-08 (the most recent available) show that between 1.1m and 1.7m pensioners who are poor enough to qualify for Pension Credit do not claim, meaning they won’t receive Cold Weather Payments to help with fuel bills during the recent cold snap

Lib Dems Demand Bus Services to new Redcar Hospital

Liberal Democrat councillors in Redcar will this week demand better bus services from Dormanstown and East Redcar to the town’s new hospital.

At present people in Dormanstown have to catch two buses or face a long walk to the new Redcar Primary Care Hospital.

Not only that, the new complex is now the location of several local GPs.

At this Thursday’s meeting of Redcar & Cleveland Council, Dormanstown Councillor Eric Howden will ask the Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways to demand a better service from bus operators.

Eric said:

“People have to meet appointments. If appointments are missed, which at present many are, they may have to wait a long time for another to be allocated. Many of the people affected are ill and infirm. It is our duty to help them.”

“People in East Redcar face a similar problem. A circular type route that gives maximum coverage to both these areas and runs from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday would be well used and greatly appreciated.”

Monday, 11 January 2010

Ian Swales puts fairness at the heart of the Liberal Democrat campaign

The Liberal Democrats have announced they will fight the General Election on four key principles, designed to make Britain a fairer place.

PPC for Redcar constituency, Ian Swales, has today set out his campaign priorities: fair taxes; a fair start for every child; fair, clean and local politics and a fair, green economy with jobs that last.
Ian Swales said:

“Local people have been let down by their politicians and are rightly frustrated. I am going into the election with a clear direction and a manifesto that is short, direct and to the point.

“We will introduce fairer taxes by closing loopholes for the richest, introducing a tax on mansions and tax cuts of £700 for everyone else.

“If your child is at school in this constituency, we can promise investment to help reduce class sizes, improve discipline and develop one-to-one tuition.

“We would also give you the right to sack your MP. The Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to real change of our political system, flushing out big money and corrupt donors and reducing the number of MPs by 150.

“And we will rebuild the economy in every part of Britain in a way that promotes green technology and creates lasting jobs. We will put an end to casino banking, bring back competition and support local entrepreneurs to make sure businesses can find the money they need to grow.

“The coming months are a crucial time for politics and I will be using them to focus on these four priorities and delivering real change for our area.”

In his speech to launch the campaign, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said:

“David Cameron and Gordon Brown are playing the politics of the airbrush and the focus group.

“One doesn’t know what he believes. The other doesn’t know what to do with the power he clings to so desperately.

“I believe the country wants something different. The Liberal Democrats are different. We offer credibility where it’s needed. And hope for our common future.”

Friday, 8 January 2010

Ian Swales - A Positive Plan for Corus

Ian Swales, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Redcar, has made a submission to Parliament's North East Regional Committee inquiry into Corus.

His document "a Positive Plan for Corus Teesside" was published before Christmas and has already had a good reception from Corus managers, Union officials and local politicians.

The plan calls for investment at Corus to reverse the fortunes of the declining site and suggests ways in which this could be financed.

Ian Swales said: "If Corus and the Government want to see it happen, Teesside could once again become a world leading site for the production of steel. What's needed is investment to put right the neglect of the last ten years and to introduce new technology. I have listed many opportunities including ideas to reduce the energy use and cost base of the site. A good example is to get on with building the giant windfarm that was approved way back in 2004. Short term subsidies may help the programme happen but are not the answer for the long term. My plan would create jobs, not destroy them, and get Teesside's heart beating again. The local community deserves nothing less than a serious attempt to make this happen."

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

How should Redcar and Cleveland Council be run in the future?

Redcar and Cleveland Council wants the public to get involved in a consultation about how it is run in the future.

Following a change in the law there will be two options to choose from, both different from the current system.

The choices - a Council Leader and Cabinet or a directly-elected Mayor and Cabinet - will be the subject of three months consultation in January, February and March and depending on the result, there could be a referendum in the summer.

The Council's existing arrangements involve 59 councillors elected every four years. The Leader and ten-member Cabinet are elected by the majority party on an annual basis.

The option of a Council Leader and Cabinet is similar to how the Council is currently run, all 59 councillors would decide who will be the Leader. Then the Leader would select their own Cabinet, appointing up to nine councillors, including a Deputy Leader. The Leader would remain in office for four years and could only be removed by a vote of no-confidence by the whole Council.

As in the existing arrangements, a Civic Mayor would continue to be appointed annually to carry out ceremonial and other duties.

The second option is for a directly-elected Mayor, elected by local people, and Cabinet. The directly-elected Mayor, who would serve for four years, would also select their own Cabinet, appointing up to nine councillors, including a Deputy Leader.

The differences are that the directly-elected Mayor could not be removed from office by the whole Council and, under this system, the title of Civic Mayor would probably disappear, although the Council could appoint one councillor to carry out these duties under an alternative title.

People can give their views through the Council’s website, by post or in planned group discussions and surveys. Depending on the results we may hold a public referendum in the summer of 2010.

You can write to Communities Team, Town Hall, Fabian Road, South Bank, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, TS6 9AR, email to , visit or call 01642 774774.

The new arrangements need to be in place three days after the next local elections in May 2011.